I’m Banking on Radical Acceptance to Reach the Next Step in Life
When I was younger, I drew up several vision boards outlining my dream life. I simply listed my goals and the age by which I wanted to achieve them.
I remember being 10 years old and writing in my diary with such strong conviction that I needed to own a credit card by the time I turned 18. Looking back, that seems like a silly thing to aim for. But it mattered to me at the time, and I was determined to get it.
My 10-year-old self believed a credit card would enable me to buy things that could possibly improve my life, help me gain independence, and most importantly, make me feel grown up.
Interestingly, putting that in my life vision somehow allowed me to set intentions for my future. At 25, I got my first credit card. Yet, it no longer carried the same allure it did for 10-year-old me. What I thought was a bridge to wealth and happiness turned out to be a headache-inducing responsibility for my adult self.
In later versions of my life vision, my lofty childhood dreams became more grounded in reality. When I was 22, and doing this very same activity in a university English class, I wrote down that I wanted to have a successful business career. I also noted that I wanted to have a family of my own before I turned 30. This ultimately became more specific as I sought to have my first child at age 24. That, so far, has been one of few goals I’ve achieved “on time.”
While I managed to hit some of my other targets late, I should feel blessed that I attained them at all. Looking back, it’s amazing how these abstractions have already manifested themselves in reality. In a sense, I’m already living out parts of my dream life. My husband, Jared, and I are happy with our daughter. We’re thriving and getting by. We are grateful. (We’re not perfect. Jared has seizures and bleeds, while I get anxiety attacks, but that’s OK.)
Still, a major aspect of our situation needs to change as soon as possible. As things around us start to fall apart, and my self-imposed deadline looms, my anxiety grows.
I might now be where my younger self dreamed I’d be, but I’m still not where my current self feels she should be. That thought constantly bugs me, and before long, I’m filled with impatience and frantic thoughts.
These thoughts can be paralyzing, and they are often unforgiving when things start to stray from the plan. I begin to get dismayed when unexpected issues pop up. I grow angry with myself and start thinking that I don’t deserve self-care. The more I wallow, the more self-destructive I become. I don’t realize it right away until I start feeling trapped in the here and now, with no apparent progress toward my future.
The way out seems ironic at first, but it’s very effective. It’s accepting where I am in the here and now. I must acknowledge that things may not be good (and that’s not OK), accept that this is where I am now, remain calm, and carefully plan out my future actions in line with my desired outcome. This is radical acceptance.
Jared practices this quite well in his everyday life. Given his severe hemophilia B, he expects that some days will be worse than others. While sudden bleeds are most certainly not fun, there’s really nothing he can do about it.
Instead of wallowing in pain and sorrow, he chooses to pick up a bottle of factor and stick a needle into his vein, despite his childhood fear of needles. He rests for a while, rehabilitates the injured body part, and carries on with his life, catching up on the tasks he’s missed.
“This is my life,” Jared says to me. “I don’t know anything else, and I must adapt. Having a sense of humor helps me get by.”
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.